It was time. For years, I have seen these ubiquitous pickles-in-a-pouch in liquor stores and gas stations. Yes, a plastic pouch containing a pickle floating in a murky fluid. I was finally ready to find out what they were all about.
I chose the spicy variety of embalmed pickle. They also come in garlic, sweet & sour, and something known as “The Big Papa.” I like the idea of a pickle in a pouch because if I drop my pickle it won’t get dirty.
I’m a individually-wrapped, single-serving junkie. Give me a snack size bag of chips any day. I like having portion control figured out for me, because if you leave me to discern a proper portion, I’ll eat half of the bag. Experts will tell you not to eat mindlessly and to pay attention to how much you’re eating—but my God, that’s half the joy of eating—not thinking and shoveling it in.
I can also be OCD about my food. Just think with a big bag of chips, how many sweaty hands dip in and out of the bag. With single servings, I can ensure only my hand has touched the chips. The more I think about it, a single-serving pickle seems kind of brilliant.
The folks at Van Holten’s are very succinct. Contents: One Pickle. No more, no less. You can depend on something like that.
Also, no refrigeration needed. One pickle contains something like 1000% of your daily salt. I could add these pickles to the mental list of bomb-shelter supplies for their rich source of sodium. In my spare time, a.k.a. the time I’m supposed to be working, I like to read about bomb shelters and nuclear fallout. Building a bomb shelter seems like it could be a fun hobby, like a hardcore version of camping. I could even create a rambling, paranoid website to go with it.
On my mental list, I’m collecting ideas like jarred olives and almonds for their long shelf lives and healthy fats. Peanut butter and crackers for high energy. Matches for fire. Staples and plastic sheeting for God-knows-what, but I’ll rig something together. A 5-gallon bucket for pooping.
We’ll need tasty, quirky pickles that last forever in the nuclear apocalypse.
I want to say that I was very sincerely looking forward to eating this pickle. I was raised on strange processed-foods like Slim Jims and Twinkies, so I expected this pickle to be insanely delicious and addictive. Besides, have I ever bought a bad snack from a liquor store or gas station? Never. Spicy peanuts, honey buns, ranch-flavored pretzel-bites. I’m like a liquor store gourmand.
I was ready for it. All of it.
Until I took it out of the package. It had a pungent smell. It had a terrible smell. Like spicy cat vomit. Like steaming garbage soaking in vinegar. (Which you’d think would be a different smell entirely from spicy cat vomit—but no, not really.)
Whereas pickles should be firm and crunchy, this thing was limp and rubbery. I should have known right then.
I sliced her up.
The taste was weird. It was not like a pickle. Perhaps the embalming fluids overwhelmed the taste too much. I can’t describe the flavor other than chemically. The spiciness had a nice kick, but there was no satisfying pickle crunch, just a rubbery ass-old cucumber to chew on. And chew on. And chew on. And swallow.
Generally in my review of things, I like to reminisce on some long-ago moment from childhood, or reflect the meaning of these objects, but today I will not. I will just say this: Pickle is not good. Pickle is bad. Pickle is a green boogerloaf.
I decided to see if the squirrels would eat it.
Squirrels are back in my life. Were they gone? Yes. I missed squirrels when I lived in the city. I saw cats sulking and rats scurrying and junkies lumbering on the streets of Baltimore. Now the girlfriend and I have moved from our respective places in the city into an apartment together in the suburbs.
While I liked aspects of living in the city, I’m happier in the suburbs where there are snowball stands and yard sales. We no longer live near hip little eateries and bars where the waitresses wear silk scarves, but we do live near a seedy Vietnamese place that serves raw meat.
And there are an abundance of squirrels. There’s a population of one hundred squirrels per square foot. Would the squirrels eat the pickle?
I placed the pickle outside, and an hour later, to my excitement, the pickle had moved.
A squirrel sampled it, and possibly rejected it—or found it too heavy to carry back to his squirrel home. But the squirrels around here are on steroids or something, so I think he rejected it.
The next morning of my experiment, we woke to the sound of mowing.
It was like that scene in the backyard of Honey I Shrunk the Kids when the neighbor kid is mowing the lawn with the remote control lawnmower. I was watching in horror as the pickle was about to get plowed over.
“Your pickle is going to get chopped up,” the girlfriend said as we both watched out the window.
“Look! Over there!” I said. “It’s that cleaning woman.”
The pickle had another adversary. The woman who picks up trash.
I watched her saunter across the parking lot, picking up wadded up napkins and cigarette butts with a metal claw. Could the pickle survive both the lawnmower AND the cleaning woman?
A few hours later, when the coast was clear, and when I was certain the people from the rental office wouldn’t see me photographing the lot of grass by people’s cars, I went to see if the pickle had survived.
The squirrels will feast! Unless they don’t like it either. But I bet they won’t be so picky in the nuclear apocalypse.
Come follow The Surfing Pizza on Facebook @ www.facebook.com/thesurfingpizza, and I’ll keep you updated on the pickle’s adventure. If it’s still out there, later today.